Medical Research and the Ethics of Distribution: Nisin-treated Catheters in Ecuador and Oregon

TitleMedical Research and the Ethics of Distribution: Nisin-treated Catheters in Ecuador and Oregon
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsHiggins, Adam Z.
Academic Departmentbioengineering
Thesis AdvisorBothwell, Michelle
DegreeBachelor of Arts in International Studies in Bioengineering
Number of Pages72
Date Published06/2002
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
Keywordsantimicrobial, Bioengineering, catheter, Ecuador, oregon

There is a large disparity in health care access and research funding between
nations, which affects the distribution of new medical technologies and brings to bear
issues of distributive justice. The financial aspects of new medical developments should
be considered by researchers who aim to improve health since affordability plays a major
role in the extent of positive health effects that an innovation can produce. Over the last
decade, researchers at Oregon State University have developed a new method for
reducing the incidence of catheter-related infection. Catheters are treated with the
antimicrobial peptide nisin, which prevents bacterial adhesion and subsequent infection.
The potential for use of nisin-treated catheters in Ecuador and Oregon was examined,
focusing on economic constraints that could affect the distribution of treated catheters. It
was found that nisin-treated catheters may actually reduce cost by reducing the length of
hospital stay associated with catheter-related infection. Thus, nisin-treated catheters
would be affordable in both Ecuador and Oregon and problems of inequitable distribution
based on economics would not be present with the introduction of this technology.